Dancer Luca Silvestrini has lived in Britain for 20 years, though he calls himself Italian.

Yet when he returns to his homeland, he doesn’t feel he really fits in.

He says he has an “in between” status when it comes to his identity.

It’s one of the reasons why he devised Border Tales, a new work from his company Protein Dance.

It uses a combination of dance, dialogue and live music to deliver personal stories and social commentary with a touch of humour.

Border Tales examines the topical subjects of immigration and multi-culturalism with a truly international cast.

There are seven performers on stage, with backgrounds from countries including Taiwan, Egypt, Nigeria, China and the Philippines.

Luca is an associate artist of DanceXchange in Birmingham and has performed many times in the city.

Dancer Luca Silvestrini
Dancer Luca Silvestrini
 

He is bringing Border Tales to the International Dance Festival Birmingham, performing at the Patrick Centre at the Hippodrome from May 13-17.

Another of Protein Dance’s works, (in)visible dancing, was a hit at the 2010 festival. It saw performers suddenly bursting into dance on the streets of Birmingham.

Other Protein Dance shows include Publife, which was performed in a pub, LOL about social networks and the internet, and Dear Body, about body beautiful obsessives.

Luca says: “The idea for Border Tales came a few years ago. A lot of questions were being asked at the time about whether multi-culturalism was working and whether too many people were coming into the country.

“I have lived here for 20 years, it’s where I work and pay taxes, but I think of Britain as my host country, I don’t feel at all English. I say I am Italian, though when I go back I don’t feel particularly Italian or at home.

“I think you become something strange and in between when you move to a new country. You neither feel as you used to be, or something new. You are neither one thing nor the other.

“There’s a cultural misplacement and it’s hard to identify yourself.

“There are questions that we address in Border Tales of identity, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.

“One of the first questions people usually ask you is ‘where are you from?’ and I say London, but they say ‘no, where are you really from?’.

“That is even more apparent for some of the performers who are described as British Other – they were born here from immigrant parents, so they feel British but their face doesn’t match that.

“They are Filipino/Indian, Chinese and Nigerian. There’s also an Irishman, an Egyptian and a woman from Taiwan among the company, and the live musician on stage is from Colombia.

“Languages spoken on stage include some Arabic, but the text is mainly in English. Most of the performers only speak that, they don’t know the language of their parents as they have lost that connection.

“Fortunately dancing is a universal language.

“The characters are based on the performers’ stories and influenced by others we researched.

“We tend to use humour as a way of conveying harsh concepts. Heavy issues can be lightened with the use of wit and irony.”